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Owens, Smart End Loyola’s Quest : WCC tournament: Seventh-seeded San Francisco upsets Lions, 101-93, in opening round.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Tim Owens of the University of San Francisco had the hot hand Saturday, and teammate Orlando Smart had the sure hands.

Together, they led the seventh-seeded Dons to a 101-93 upset of No. 2-seeded Loyola Marymount in the opening round of the West Coast Conference basketball tournament at Toso Pavilion.

Owens, a junior forward, scored a career-high 45 points, breaking the WCC tournament record of 33 points set by the late Hank Gathers in 1988. Smart, a freshman point guard, had 13 assists, many of them setting up baseline baskets by Owens.

USF center Darryl Johnson, who was injured and did not play in two regular-season losses to Loyola, was also a big help. He equaled a career-high with 21 points and had a game-high 11 rebounds.

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It was the first WCC tournament victory for the Dons (12-16) after four first-round losses. USF ended Loyola’s 10-game winning streak and its streak of seven in the conference tournament. The Lions are 16-14 and scheduled to play a nonconference game at Princeton next Saturday.

Loyola Coach Jay Hillock said that Owens had a great game and that Johnson also made a big difference. But Hillock added that he thought “the game was won by the freshman guard” Smart.

Hillock said that “the real key to the game was Smart” and his “handling of our full-court press.”

Loyola point guard Terrell Lowery scored 34 points.

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USF, which led at halftime, 55-44, needed strong efforts from Smart, Owens and Johnson to hold off the Lions in the second half.

The Dons built a 63-46 lead less than three minutes into the second half. But in the next six minutes, Loyola forced a series of turnovers and outscored USF, 22-10, cutting the lead to 71-68 with 11:18 left.

A 14-foot baseline jump shot by Wilson Stephens expanded the Dons’ lead to 82-74 with 8:48 to play. But three minutes later, Brian McCloskey hit a 16-footer from the baseline, and Loyola pulled to within 83-79.

But the Lions could get no closer. Smart kept shaking off Loyola’s defensive pressure and feeding the ball to Owens, and the Dons kept pulling away.

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USF Coach Jim Brovelli also praised Smart. “We wanted to keep them extended and get the ball to Orlando in the middle,” Brovelli said.

Smart can “read the court, get the ball up quickly and make the right decisions,” he added.


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